Resolving the layoff rights of a teacher granted tenure in an unauthorized tenure area

Resolving the layoff rights of a teacher granted tenure in an unauthorized tenure area
Thorenz v Board of Educ. of The Monticello Cent. Sch. Dist., 2012 NY Slip Op 09135, Appellate Division, Third Department

A teacher was granted tenure by the School Board in the special subject tenure area "In-School Suspension" and continued serving in that capacity until 2010 when she was notified that “the Board determined that it was ‘necessary to eliminate a teaching position in the In-School Suspension tenure area’ and that she was being terminated based upon her seniority status within that tenure area”

However, "In-School Suspension" was not an authorized special subject tenure area.

The teacher sued the school district contending that her separation was unlawful and that she should be reinstated to a position teaching in the physical education and recreation tenure area, an area in which she held a teaching certificate. 

Supreme Court granted the School Board's motion for summary judgment in part, dismissing the petition but as the teacher had been appointed by the Board to a nonexistent tenure area, Supreme Court then remitted the matter to the Board and directed it to reclassify the teacher "into an existing tenure area position.”

Both the teacher and the School Board appealed the decision.

Affirming the Supreme Court’s ruling, the Appellate Division said that the parties conceded that the teacher did not "devote a substantial portion of [her] time to instruction in . . . physical education" and therefore she cannot be deemed to have served in that special subject tenure area unless she falls within the exception created by 8 NYCRR 30-1.2 (b) (2).

8 NYCRR 30-1.2 (b) (2) provides that a professional educator who was appointed to an unauthorized tenure area prior to May 1, 2009 will be deemed to have been appointed to the tenure area for which the teacher holds a certification if the teacher was appointed for the performance of duties in instructional support services. However, the teacher’s duties, as self-described and as described in her teacher evaluations and by her principal, centered exclusively upon supervising students assigned to in-school suspension and working with other staff members concerning those students.

Thus, concluded the Appellate Division, the Board was correct in holding that the duties performed by the educator did not qualify as "instructional support services" within the meaning of the regulation and she was not legally entitled to an appointment to a position in the physical education and recreation tenure area.

However, said the court, it agreed with Supreme Court that, under the circumstances of this case, remittal is required so that the Board can reclassify the teacher into an accepted tenure area and thereafter determine seniority pursuant to Education Law §2510(2).

The decision is posted on the Internet at:

The Layoff, Preferred List and Reinstatement Manual - a 645 page e-book reviewing the relevant laws, rules and regulations, and selected court and administrative decisions is available from the Public Employment Law Press. Click On for additional information about this electronic reference manual.